Mobile Enterprise Solutions: Bring Your Own Device or Not?

Tim Ingles
Thu, Feb 5, 2015

Although the economy is growing in the U.S., Logistics Management advises supply chain managers to keep a sharp watch for changes to this state. Many companies cut their capital spending in order to inflate their growth, so business might not be as strong as it appears. Additionally, many countries crucial to supply chains such as Mexico are experiencing financial rough spots or periods of political instability. Because of the importance that raw materials ship to factories in time to produce goods for the market, it's vital that companies maintain their supply chain visibility in order to keep leading and lagging indicators sharply accurate.

One very basic way to keep logistics transparent is through data collection software solutions and mobile data collection devices. These can work together with mobile enterprise technology for the maximum availability of information. Managers can bring their mobile devices to work and use proprietary software to get up-to-date information from factory floors across the country. They can also look at how well carriers are moving products along the U.S. as certain regions experience winter storms or other effects that might harm the speed a truck can deliver goods.

Is a Policy of Bringing Your Own Device Good?
However, the question has been raised of whether BYOD policies are wise or not. RCR Wireless News presents a 2015 prediction that the BYOD trend will grow in this new year because so many companies have been able to strengthen their logistics side through looking at data quickly and easily whenever someone needs to gather information. Additionally, if a manager is visiting a factory and wants to find information about variances for the past six months, he or she can take out a smartphone can get the information without difficulty.

One of the major problems, however, according to Wireless News, is safety. With so much proprietary data showing up inside someone's personal device, security becomes a major concern. Businesses can more or less ensure the safety of their own equipment, but once employees leave the office, they can basically use their machines in any number of ways that could cause data breaches. Or, the device could simply be stolen.

Additional issues have to do with employees downloading apps to company-owned devices without permission, which can occasionally cause problems. One non-business app was used by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency member on a company machine. He downloaded a game that automatically tweeted to the more-than 52,000 followers of the EPA's twitter account an invitation to play, according to Tech Republic.

Solutions to the Dilemma
According to a study by Field Technologies, 73 percent of companies responding to a survey chose not to implement a BYOD policy. The reasons for not doing so included security and the strain it put on IT resources. Additionally, companies cited they would lose control of data if they handed over their files to non-company devices.

Instead of this, companies chose to use proprietary devices that all shared the same platform and the same software. They also disallowed employees from downloading apps.

Using a MEAP
Mobile enterprise application platforms (MEAP) are extremely powerful whether a company chooses to BYOD or not. By having a barcode scanner on a factory floor that actively traces where products are moving from one place to another, companies can establish a huge amount of data, which can then be leveraged to calculate things like the return on investment for certain factory machines or the efficiency of different carriers in different regions.

This is a major advancement over using a paper system with a clipboard. Such a method is too time consuming to make decisions quickly, and the information may not be accurate enough for making good estimations.

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